So here it goes....
Ruty: Hello and welcome to my blog. Thanks for the interview :)
Claire: Thank you! I am thrilled to be here on your blog, which is refreshingly engaging!
Ruty: Let’s start talking about your books,
You have two books published by Vinspire Publishing. Can you tell us a bit about them?
Claire: Both books found the perfect home with Vinspire Publishing, who embraced both according to the quality of the story. “A Portal in Time” is a paranormal mystery and has an unusual premise, in that it is written in alternating chapters in two different time frames: one being modern day, and the other beginning in the year 1902. It is set in a small town called Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is on the Monterey Peninsula in California’s central coast. There is something rather haunting and historic about the region, in that it is like a Tudor village set amongst pine trees and Cyprus groves by the sea. The climate is typically misty and other-worldly, which influences the story of a young woman who visits Carmel with her husband, on their one year anniversary, and can’t shake the uncanny feeling that she has been there before. The story reads like two parallel mysteries, wherein the two time periods fit together like pieces of a puzzle.
“Dancing to an Irish Reel” is contemporary fiction and is written in the first person, in the voice of twenty-five year old Hailey Crossan, who leaves the record business in Los Angeles and takes a trip to the west coast of Ireland. Unexpectedly, Hailey is offered a job at a little start-up music business in Galway and quickly accepts, which means she finds a little house to rent in rural Connemara and settles into a life-style where everything is unusual to her and new in this breathtaking, pastoral region. As she goes about her business, she meets a regionally famous Irish musician named Liam Hennessey, who is clearly attracted to her, but because Hailey is an outsider and because Liam has never had a serious girl-friend, he is so unbalanced that he can’t decide whether to come closer or run away! “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is about the uncertainty and ambiguity of new love between two people from differing cultures.
Ruty: How long took you to write each one?
Claire: Both books took a year to write, revise, edit, revise again three more times then submit.
Ruty: What inspire you to write them?
Claire: I am inspired by the idea of a good story. With "A Portal in Time," the idea came when my husband and I took a trip to Carmel, California and stayed in an historic hotel. I kept thinking the hotel looked as if it was once somebody’s house. It was situated on manicured grounds facing the sea, and had a huge, flagstone floor lobby with a stately fireplace and a Mediterranean tiled staircase that swept to the level above. There were sepia tinted framed pictures on the wall that dated back to the hotel’s inception. People stood posing in period clothing beside horse-drawn carriages, and upon asking the hotel’s concierge about the hotel’s history, he presented me with a photograph album, and I discovered that the hotel did indeed begin as somebody’s house! I started formulating the premise of “A Portal in Time” as I stood in the hotel’s lobby, and much of the story is centered upon the mysterious lobby stairs and the main character’s intuition and unsettling sense of déjà vu.
And as for “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” the truth is I actually spent a year living on the western coast of Ireland. The experience was everything one would hope to get out of living as a stranger in a strange land, where the people are so friendly and charming and the landscape is so vast and gorgeous that it colors every waking moment of the day. I love everything about the west of Ireland: its cultural nuances and social mores are so different from America that I wanted to write a story that sang its praises. And the push and pull and uncertainty of new love is something I wanted to write about because we all go through it at one time or another. The road to love, or the road to connection, wherein both people are excited and hopeful, but also uncertain and a little anxious as they try to read each other is a subject I rarely see in a novel. I wanted to write about the friends who surround us during such a time; how they aid and support us and often times serve as confidants and interpreters during confusing times. This is why the title is “Dancing to an Irish Reel!” the entire story is like an Irish dance!
Ruty: They are two different genres, contemporary fiction and the other paranormal mystery. Do you have a preference?
Claire: Yes, I do. I prefer to write in the first person and I like to write, as well as read fiction that is outside of a particular genre. I like fiction that is true to life and says something about living and the attendant emotions one experiences, as opposed to a fantastic story, if you will. This makes it easier to relate to a book, in my opinion. I like the idea of a reader personally connecting to the characters as they read about their predicament, so that they can compare notes and examine their own life.
Ruty: You have a new book coming out, don’t you? What can you tell us about it?
Claire: I can tell you that I have completed my third novel, and that it is a Southern family saga set in 1970’s and 1980’s Memphis, Tennessee. I am still fine-tuning the book. I am one of those writers who painstakingly and repeatedly goes over the book to exhaustive degrees!
Ruty: Now let’s talk about you?
You have to German Shepherds and they look super cute by their pictures. I need to know why the names: Ceili and Ronin.
Claire: You have now touched upon my favorite subject! I love my dogs; they are the center of my universe and the good news is my husband feels the same! We have a blast with our pair of German shepherds. Ceili and Ronin are our second team, after we lived with Secret ( name came from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and Shadow, who were both females and lived with us for eleven and a half years. When Shadow died (which broke our hearts) we got Ceili, which is the Irish word for “a musical party.” The name sounds like “Kay-lee” and has personal resonance for me, since I lived in Ireland. We got Ronin after Secret died. He is our first male shepherd, and he is art-work! He was a German import puppy, and the name is Irish (only in Ireland, it is spelled Ronan.) But there is a movie starring Robert DeNiro that takes place in Europe called Ronin, and I looked up the name to discover it means a Samurai warrior who has gone rogue, as in left the troops and gone out on his own. I thought the name seemed brave and masculine. Both shepherds are almost two years old now. I will now offer to show pictures of all our shepherds by sending you to my Pinterest presence where there is a board named “My German shepherds.” https://www.pinterest.com/cffullerton/
Ruty: What’s your favorite writing scenario?
Claire: I like noiseless, uninterrupted privacy. I have my own writing room in our house, and it is perfect because there is a floor to ceiling glass wall that looks out to the Pacific Ocean.
Ruty: If you have to choose a place to live for the rest of your live, where would it be?
Claire: I would love to divide my time between California, Tennessee, and Ireland. I love California, but I also love the American South because it is where I grew up. And Ireland will always have a place in my heart.
Ruty: I saw that you really like Ireland. It’s one of the places I want to visit some time, what’s your favorite thing about Ireland?
Claire: The way it feels to be there. For one thing, it is historically preserved and at every juncture, one feels connected to the land. Even in Ireland’s cities, one feels a rural quality just around the corner. In outlying areas, there is always a sense of the dramatic sea. The architecture is ancient and preserved. There are a multitude of castles peppered throughout the countryside that are dated back hundreds of years that give you an idea of Ireland’s history. And the locals are proud and well informed of their lineage, and because they are the friendly sort, who are embracing of tourists, travelling throughout Ireland is like an historic tutorial! And the green of the island is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. They say there are 52 colors of green in Ireland, and I think that may be a conservative number. The land is absolutely spectacular and is a walker’s paradise. And now I will mention the Irish people: they are funny, wickedly smart, authentic, unpretentious, and fundamentally happy. I will venture to generalize now and say that for anyone who visits Ireland, they’ll feel as if it is home. And lastly, I have to mention Irish music; it is the cultural glue that binds, and most of the Irish play one instrument or another, and play it well. Irish traditional music is specific to and exemplary of the Irish personality and culture. It is the soul of Irish character and Irish pride. Irish music is passed down through generations. There is something haunting and magical about it in its execution. In summation, all I can say is you have to go!
"A Portal in Time"
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Claire Fullerton is the author of “Dancing to an Irish Reel” (Literary Fiction) and “A Portal in Time,” (Paranormal Mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing. She is a 4 time, award winning essayist, a contributor to magazines (including “Celtic Life International” and “Southern Writers Magazine”) a former newspaper columnist, and a 5 time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. Claire hails from Memphis, Tennessee and now lives in Malibu, California, with her husband and two German shepherds. She has recently completed her third novel, which is a Southern family saga set in Memphis.
Find out more about her, her dogs and books: